Susan Lerner poses with the sculpture that she and Melita Westerlund created with mussel shells at the Great Harbor Maritime Museum in Northeast Harbor. PHOTO COURTESY OF SUSAN LERNER

Lerner creates art from everything

Susan Lerner is an accomplished painter and sculptor, but her creativity doesn’t stop there.

She has yet to come across a material she couldn’t use to make art – from old clothes to muscle shells, from the foil around the necks of wine bottles to meringue.

A mobile in Susan Lerner’s home reflects her eclectic aesthetic. ISLANDER PHOTO BY DICK BROOM

She fashions the foil into bracelets, earrings and pins. Meringue becomes realistic-looking mushrooms. She and fellow Bar Harbor artist Melita Westerlund used mussel shells to create the huge, hulking figure that stands in front of the Great Harbor Maritime Museum in Northeast Harbor.

While some people decorate their homes specifically for Christmas or other holidays, Lerner celebrates the changing of the seasons by collecting and artistically arranging items from the natural world such as evergreen cones, feathers and “gnarly” driftwood.

From the garden, she uses tulips, zinnias, dahlias, poppy pods, grape tendrils and oddly shaped squashes.

“It’s really about the seasons for me,” Lerner said. “For the winter and the solstice, I like to make things and bring things in that have to do with that. We’re lucky to live in this glorious place where you can be so in tune with it if you want to be.”

In every season, she delights in finding creative uses for found or forgotten objects.

“It’s really about recycling and revisiting things that can take on another life and continue on and not just get thrown away,” she said.

Using recycled clothing, she made a colorful, human-size butterfly with a life mask on its face that could be suspended from above as if in flight.

“What I’m trying to do is make statements, in a way, about living sustainably and artfully and aesthetically.”

A founding member of the College of the Atlantic faculty, Lerner taught art, literature and dance. She was director of the school’s Blum Gallery for several years.



Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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